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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Groups Demand Action on Sewage

Unsatisfied with actions taken so far, a pair of environmental watchdog groups want Wilmington and state regulators to "step up" and do more to protect residents and coastal ecosystems from sewage spills. The N.C. Coastal Federation and Cape Fear Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation are recommending new measures to increase - or at least stabilize - the reliability of the city's troubled Northeast Interceptor sewer line. They also want new programs to raise public awareness about sewer leaks and their dangers. The most controversial proposal would be a ban, or at least a slowdown, on new homes or businesses tapping onto the system until sewer improvements are finished. "You can't have new growth until the old growth is taken care off," said Sean Ahlum, chairman of the local Surfrider chapter, which favors a ban on all new hookups to the interceptor. "You can't build any more until your foundation is solid." more

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Two More Oregon BWTF Labs

In December 2006, Surfrider Field Staff established two Blue Water Task Force testing laboratories in Oregon High Schools. Both labs were funded by regional Packard Foundation grants, with funds requested by Oregon Surfrider staff. The labs are in the West Linn High School for the Portland Chapter and Pacific High School for the Port Orford Organizing Committee. The West Linn lab will analyze both fresh and marine water samples. This variety of samples may display the terrestrial souce to marine pollution. Local volunteers, Andy Bartley, Melissa Gilbert and West Linn science teacher Jamie Kelso have worked hard to establish this lab. The Port Orford lab will analyze nearshore samples collected by volunteers and students and offshore samples collected by Port Orford fishermen. Pacific High School science teacher Michael Smith is very enthusiastic about having the testing equipment in the classroom. Surfrider staff presented to three of Mr. Smith’s classes discussing the importance of water testing and the variety of the uses of the data.

BWTF is Surfrider Foundation – Oregon Chapter’s flagship program. The program has served as the most effective tool for recruiting new coastal volunteers – where our chapter network is weakest and yet most important. The BWTF is the primary catalyst for policy advancement by involving the volunteers in pollution solutions (ecosystem-based management), marine conservation discussions, Oregon’s Beach Monitoring Program and watershed education events.

Surfrider volunteers and staff have been working to match Surfrider’s Respect The Beach curriculum to Oregon’s science education benchmarks. Portland volunteer Jocelyn Gary recently completed this task. The BWTF lab classrooms will be a valuable scenario to link the RTB materials to BWTF activities and assure teachers that the Surfrider presentation matches science curriculum standards.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Season to be Grateful

The beauty of Surfrider Foundation, and the reason I’m involved with this organization, is its genuine “grassroots” nature. I don’t think there is another organization in the environmental community that can make a more compelling argument that “we have our finger on the community’s pulse.” We know what is important in our community because we ARE our community.

But keeping with the spirit of the season, we should also be thankful for our partners that share our passion and goals. It is rare when our victories to achieve restoration and protection of our coast and ocean don’t involve other organizations.

I want to share just one example. Just recently the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted regulations that will greatly improve water quality in the Santa Monica Bay. It was a huge victory, not only for our local coast and ocean, but for setting an important precedent for the rest of California – if not the nation.

Surfrider contributed by mobilizing our membership to support this major step toward achieving the goal of safe and healthy water quality. But this was a collective effort led primarily by Santa Monica Baykeeper, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Heal the Bay. Watching Tracy Egoscue of Santa Monica Baykeeper employ her professional talents as an attorney at the final decision hearing was one of those moments when I was both proud and humbled to be a partner in the larger environmental community.

No doubt this example of our partnership with Santa Monica Baykeeper is a tale that every one of our chapters can tell about other organizations. The list of our partners and mutual victories is too long to even attempt. Sometimes we will lead the fight and get our name in the newspaper and sometimes we will play a support role. But behind what the media reports, we know the value of collaborative efforts. We all bring different strengths to these victories. Ours is the power of grassroots activists who volunteer their time freely to make a positive difference in our communities. Each chapter has different members with different skills – each member important to our success. When we lack a certain skill, or the challenge is too large to accomplish alone, we should all be thankful for all the Tracy Egoscues out there that are willing and able to lead the charge or carry the extra load.

I’m certain that in the coming year our chapters and membership will continue to grow – and our collective skill sets will broaden. It’s a season to celebrate our recent victories and plan for future successes and growth while simultaneously being grateful and giving thanks to our partners. Onward and upward – together.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

North Shore Kickball Tourney

Aloha! We had a great turnout for the Fifth Annual All Bus Kickball Tournament yesterday. Thanks to everyone for supporting the Surfrider O’ahu team! We won Game 1, but were shut out in Game 2 by a bunch of guys in hula skirts! You can catch the replay on ESPN and MTV2 (not joking – they were there filming).

Monday, December 18, 2006

Parking and Access Return to Haulover

Just in time for another week of strong NE windswell, FREE access to Harbour House surf break is finally opened. Due to the hard work and tireless efforts of many South Florida Chapter members we are one step closer to having normal beach access again. The Florida Dept. of Transportation recently announced an official investigation into the illegal closure of the parking lots under the Haulover Bridge.

South Florida members discovered that FDOT had sent a certified letter to the Village back in 2004 directing them not to sub-lease the parking lots to a developer. The Village sub-let the land to developer WCI anyway and collected almost $300,000 in fees (that we know of) to block the public from State land & the beach. It was also discovered that the Village appears to be conspiring with WCI to re-design the area and permanently reduce parking capacity. Surfrider has taken a stand that the monies collected and proposed changes are illegal.

This particular campaign helps build further support for Florida's statewide campaign goal for a beach access amendment to the Florida Constitution.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Port Orford, Oregon

Surfrider members are partnering with commercial fishermen in Port Orford, Oregon on a community-based ocean management project. The goal: an "Ocean Stewardship Area" that will protect the rich marine ecology of the region while also promoting sustainable fishing opportunities for the local fleet.

The 'Stewardship Area' project is being led by the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team (POORT) with support from its project partners - Surfrider Foundation, Pacific Marine Conservation Council, and Ecotrust. The Port Orford Ocean Resource Team is a local non-profit that involves commercial fishermen in the science, management, and marketing of its local fishery. Leesa Cobb, Director of POORT, is a fisherman's wife and longtime Surfrider member.

For the past year, Surfrider volunteers and staff have been working with the fishing fleet to formalize their community-based approach to ocean management. This has included establishing a 'Community Advisory Team' that provides a formal link between the fishermen and members of the broader community. Surfrider folks have also helped organize public forums and develop educational opportunities for local citizens.

The Stewardship Area will provide a seascape for implementing ecosystem-based management (EBM) approaches. Pacific Marine Conservation Council is facilitating the development of a spatial management scheme that will be informed by local knowledge, best available science, and the identified goals and objectives of the community. Concurrently, Surfrider staff and volunteers are working to secure state-level endorsements of the process and a formal recognition of this bottom-up approach to ocean management.

Surfrider volunteers have also recently established a water quality laboratory at Pacific High School. Water quality monitoring efforts in Port Orford will increase from the current level of 3 testing locations to a total of 6 locations, including 2-3 freshwater sites. Sampling and lab analysis will be conducted by Surfrider volunteers, Pacific High School students, commercial fishermen, and other interested citizens. The Port Orford Ocean Resource Team (POORT) is engaging as formal partners in this effort, and data collected will be integrated into POORT’s nearshore monitoring program. The water quality testing program will also support the fleet's efforts to address land-sea connections, as the preliminary boundaries of the stewardship area extend inland up into the watershed.

Surfrider's work towards supporting this community-based project is ongoing and reflective of our commitment to involving citizens in local efforts to protect their coast and ocean. Thanks to Leesa, Cobb, Michael Smith and the rest of our volunteers and partners for their leadership in this important effort

Palm Beach County Chapter Assists in Victory Over Sewage Outfall

The sewage treatment plant in Delray Florida, sending an average of 13 million gallons of partly treated wastewater onto endangered corals and reef tract, will now be the first outfall of six in South Florida to discontinue the practice dumping over the next few years.

Thursday night the utility board members made the vote to make the outfall pipe carrying the waste of Delray and Boynton Beach residents to go out of regular use. The decision also represented a major step toward a resolution of the plant's 18-month-long expired permit in the face of mounting public resistance and criticism from county environmental officials.

The decision was the culmination of a four-year struggle led by the nonprofit Palm Beach County Reef Rescue and more recently the assistance of the Palm Beach County Surfrider Chapter to draw attention to the effects of the outfall on the nearby coral reef system, which has been suffocating in recent years under a pollution-fed toxic algae bloom. Local member Kerri Smith lead the campaign overseeing legal research, outreach and education.

The chapter is also deciding whether or not to pursue local Rep. Richard Machek volunteering to present a legislative bill to limit the amount of potentially algae-feeding nitrogen that is discharged through the 5 other pipes.

While the proposed alternative for the plant to use a deep well injection to dispose of more highly treated waste is not ideal, it is the lesser of two evils at this juncture. There is ongoing research as to how to eliminate the use of deep well injection as well and the chapter will be moving forward by implementing an education program for this at the Sandoway House education center in Delray.

See article for more info.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Moses and Surfrider

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Article in NY Times on Montauk Lighthouse

Save the Lighthouse: Move It
Published: November 19, 2006
The ground around the Montauk Point Lighthouse is crumbling, and if nothing is done, a powerful storm may someday rob us of a historical jewel and beloved tourist attraction, a monument that dates to George Washington’s day and is perhaps the greatest symbol of Long Island, if you don’t count the Big Duck of Flanders.
As Corey Kilgannon of The Times revealed last week, the United States Army Corps of Engineers has a plan. The plan involves boulders, to be placed in a wall, 840 feet long and 40 feet thick, like a dental cap on Long Island’s easternmost incisor. The project would cost $14 million and protect the lighthouse from the kind of giant storm that occurs once every 73 years.
The plan was moving along until strong objections were raised by the Surfrider Foundation, an environmental advocacy group, speaking on behalf of members who cluster under the lighthouse at a famed surfing spot called Alamo. The group conducted a study and concluded that all those boulders would ruin the waves at Alamo and possibly another spot nearby.
This would be a catastrophe for surfers, who flock to Montauk from all over the world. The group has offered an alternative: leave Montauk Point alone and move the lighthouse to higher ground, 800 feet away, a job estimated to cost $27 million.
The Corps and its local allies say that moving the lighthouse would be too expensive, too difficult, maybe impossible.
It is beyond our ability to say which side’s science is the more defensible. But it seems entirely reasonable, if not painfully obvious, to say that the Surfrider plan sounds fundamentally better than that of the Corps, which reflects a dated, discredited philosophy and sends exactly the wrong message about how to deal with coastal erosion.
Bitter experience up and down the Atlantic coast has proved repeatedly that shore hardening, as the tactic is known, can be a short-sighted, wasteful strategy that meddles in natural processes and often makes erosion worse. It is the general and inexorable habit of sand in this region to move from east to west. Trap the sand on this beach and you starve that one. Yes, you can dump ever more boulders and sand on a problem. It gives the engineers something to do and allows
politicians to leave problems to future budget periods.
The victories, however, are always short-term. We also find dubious the claim that moving the lighthouse is impossible, given all the other historic lighthouses — on Block Island and on Cape Hatteras and Cape Cod — that have been shifted successfully. Add global warming and rising sea levels to this equation, and the Surfrider argument becomes powerful, if not compelling.
The best argument for moving the lighthouse to high ground is that it takes the problem forever out of the realm of stopgap solutions and disputed erosion studies. It benefits everyone. It gives us all the luxury of being able to forget about stopping the ocean ever again. We should save the lighthouse, but we should save it only once.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Surfrider's New Panhandle Chapter

Regardless of who spoke or why they were speaking, each board member of the Surfrider Foundation had, in part, the same message. The Surfrider Foundation is not just for surfers. “Surfrider is so much more than just about surfing. It’s about the beach,” said Nick Gullo, one of Surfrider’s board members.
The Florida panhandle chapter held its first member meeting Nov. 18 at Fat Daddy’s Pizza to discuss where it is as a group. The Chapter plans to concentrate on beach access and educating the importance of maintaining the area’s beaches in the future. Staying focused on a few issues, rather than tackling too wide a range of topics, keeps the organization useful, said Bobby Johnson, another of Surfrider’s board members.
While this was the local chapter’s first member meeting, the board has been meeting regularly, organizing cleanups and speaking at county commission meetings to give the foundation a voice.
The panhandle chapter also hopes to separate into three groups, with Walton and Okaloosa counties joining into its own division. Keeping the branches as local as possible makes them more effective, said Gullo, as it allows the board members to become more familiar with specific issues and the government officials who can help.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New Surfrider Foundation Europe Poster

Surfrider Europe recently developed this poster for their education program. It reads "Help us keep the ocean clean."